4 Reasons Catechetical Offices Should Stop Mailing Newsletters

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A few times a year I get manila envelopes in the mail from other diocesan catechetical offices. Every time I wonder “What is this?” And then it dawns on me: it’s another paper office newsletter.

I’m a bit bewildered why, in 2013, catechetical offices are still mailing physical newsletters. Part of that is my own history in diocesan work. In fact, in many ways I was fortunate: when I joined our diocese the catechetical office didn’t have a newsletter so when I instituted one it was simple to just go digital from the start. Still, there are some good reasons to make the move from a “dead tree edition” to an electronic newsletter.

  1. Stewardship Diocesan offices are the beneficiaries of the generosity of our parishioners and donors. It behooves us to do as much as possible with these gifts by exercising good stewardship. Moving to an electronic newsletter cuts down on production costs by eliminating printing needs (including paper and ink) and postage charges. It also reduces our impact on the environment by keeping newsletters out of landfills.
  2. Increased Production Values The paper newsletter I get are simple black-and-white affairs. By contrast moving to an online newsletter frees office from the constraints of ink costs and allows for the full use of color, photography, layout, typography, and design.
  3. Utilizing Connectivity It can be hard to direct readers to the many wonderful online resources. By switching to an online newsletter it’s a simple matter of embedding a link into the document. This reduces the “friction” (resistance to movement) of getting people to a given resource by eliminating the process of manually retyping the URL in a browser. (And be honest — how often do you do that?)
  4. Better Tracking Metrics How many people read your dead tree newsletter? That’s hard to tell since we don’t know how many wind up in the waste bin. Electronic newsletters, on the other hand, allow administrators to track the number of times the link opening the newsletter has been clicked. While this still isn’t a perfect metric it’s a lot better than the “shot in the dark” of a piece of mail sent into the world.

There are plenty of ways to go about producing an online newsletter. Our office uploads a PDF document to a free Issuu accountand emails the link to our email list; we include a link to the raw PDF so that recipients can print out a copy if they desire. Services like MailChimp and FlockNote create attractive email newsletters that are easy to set up and maintain.

For those of you worried that your parish catechetical leaders “of a certain age” still want to read your newsletter on dead trees, you can always maintain a separate list of people who opt-in to receive a physical copy of the newsletter. This will still cut down on the amount of paper and postage while getting them your information.

Use of electronic newsletters will surely grow in coming years. Starting sooner rather than later will help diocesan offices grow more comfortable with the technology and use it in the most effective ways.

Comments

  1. Joyce Donahue says:

    LOL! As someone from a diocesan office that still mails them out, all I can say is good luck with the older leaders. We polled our people about this a year ago: overwhelmingly they still want it on paper. It is far too easy to delete an email… a paper newsletter sits there until you do something about it… and from what we hear, they do read it.

    Our main diocesan bulletin goes out in email only and it’s a bit of a joke that no one reads it. Offices that insist on promoting events or policy only through that vehicle have seen very poor attendance and awareness.

    Actually, we do “both-and.” We have gone to a monthly resource-and-event email which contains links, to keep people abreast of current items, since our paper newsletter is quarterly – but for longer feature articles, suggestions for best practices and policy matters, print still works best. Our hope is that they take the time to mull over our newsletter, which is more like a magazine, to get great ideas to renew their ministry.

  2. I’m with you on this one Jonathan. I’ve been trying to get rid of our parish newsletter that goes out on paper and people are so attached to it. I understand there’s many older folks that don’t use computers and would miss out on this but it could be greatly reduced with an opt-in as you suggested.

  3. Christian LeBlanc says:

    Our online parish bulletin typically runs 12-14 pages. The paper one, 8 pages max. People can still get it, but it’s less info. All our catechetical stuff is via email. I think the only paper we get is a form to sign saying we intend to teach the next year.

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